This week, the Democratic party will officially select Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as their ticket for the 2020 presidential election.
Each night includes two hours of speeches featuring high-profile politicians, everyday Americans and other public figures.
Wednesday night featured some of the most well-known speakers yet of the Democratic National Convention: Senator Elizabeth Warren, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, former President Barack Obama and California Sen. Kamala Harris, who officially accepted the vice presidential nomination.
The VERIFY team investigated the claims they made during their speeches.
Actress Kerry Washington claimed that “Joe Biden introduced one of the first climate bills in Congress.”
This is TRUE.
While serving as a senator for Delaware, Joe Biden introduced the “Global Climate Protection Act of 1987.” In a 2007 law review article, Roel Hammerschlag, an associate scientist at the Stockholm Environment Institute, wrote that Biden’s ‘87 bill was the start of the modern “climate policy system.”
Prior to Biden’s legislation, Al Gore hosted House hearings on climate change in 1976, and then in 1985 as a senator, introduced a concurrent resolution asking the president to form a research program on greenhouse gas emissions.
Sources: 1987 Global Climate Protection Act, 2007 Stockholm Environment Institute Law Review Article, 1985 Concurrent Resolution
- Jason Puckett
During her speech, Clinton said “it’s wrong that billionaires got 400 billion dollars richer during the pandemic…”
This claim accurately represents the findings of a widely shared report by the Institute for Policy Studies, but the number is a bit misleading.
The institute monitored the collective wealth of billionaires in the U.S. and found that their total net worth grew from $2.948 trillion to $3.531 trillion during the pandemic. That’s a growth of about $583 billion. They reported roughly $400 billion in an earlier version.
Critics have pointed out that the IPS uses a potentially skewed data set. They monitored the wealth of U.S. billionaires from March 18th on. They call this the “rough start date of the pandemic shutdown.” But by starting on that date, they potentially leave out historic drops in the U.S. and global economies that took place earlier in February.
Put simply, many American billionaires had already seen their net worth decreased by billions of dollars when the IPS started monitoring. If someone’s net worth dropped by $50 billion in February and they’ve gained back $45 billion by now, they haven’t increased their overall wealth, but the IPS report would indicate that they had.
A dataset of billionaires relative value at the start of 2020 compared to now is not available for a separate comparison.
Sources: Institute for Public Studies Report, Critique of IPS report, Forbes ‘Real-Time Billionaires” tracker
- Jason Puckett
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Pelosi said that “more than five million Americans are infected by the coronavirus.”
This claim is false.
The U.S. has had more than five million cases total, but that includes all the people who have recovered or died due to the virus. According to Johns Hopkins data, roughly two million people in the United States have recovered from the coronavirus and 173,125 have died. If you subtract those from the total cases, you’re left with at most 3.4 million people who could be infected. That number is likely lower as the recovered numbers update slower.
Sources: John Hopkins Case Tracker
- Jason Puckett
Obama said "I asked him to manage the Recovery Act, which jump started the longest stretch of job growth in history."
It's true that the longest stretch of job growth recorded in the United States began during the Obama-Biden administration. However, it's impossible to determine how much of that can be attributed to the Recovery Act, which was signed into law more than a year before the record streak began.
The stretch of job growth Obama referred to began in September 2010 and ended in April 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's the most consecutive months of job growth in the BLS's dataset dating back to 1939.
The Trump White House put out a press release when it eclipsed the old record back in 2018. At that time, it had just passed 94 consecutive months.
Pinning down exactly how much the Recovery Act contributed to that record is hard to say. For what it's worth, it was signed into law in February 2009, 19 months before the job growth streak began.
Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics (All employees, thousands, total nonfarm, not seasonally adjusted), White House press release
- TJ Spry
Warren said that “America has the most COVID deaths in the world.”
This is true but needs context.
Data from Johns Hopkins shows that the United States does have the highest total number of COVID-19 deaths in the world with 173,125 deaths. But, the United States also has a larger population than many other countries in the world.
If you adjust the total deaths by population the U.S. drops lower. A Johns Hopkins analysis of deaths per 100,000 population shows the U.S. is actually 4th highest in the world. A separate analysis compares the observed case-fatality ratio of each country. This number is determined by dividing the total number of fatalities by the total number of cases. On this chart, the U.S. ranks 12th in the world.
- Jason Puckett
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